With a baby on the way, there are a few things you hope for. Of course, you hope for an easy birth, a quick recovery, and to have healthy babies with ten fingers and ten toes. But any honest parent will tell you they’re also hoping for a baby that will sleep through the night, eat well, and develop at an appropriate (or better than average) pace. We all want a child that keeps up with the (baby) Jones’, each step of the way.
Indeed there’s a lot of pressure; from parenting books, from social media, from your circle of friends. But certainly, the most intense pressure is that which is coming from our own expectations for how it would all shake out.
You hear chatter about what to do to help milestones pass, in particular, sleeping, which is a very hot topic among new parents. The reason for this, of course, is the extreme sleep deprivation and the desperation that comes along with it. On day one of parenthood, you begin hoping for a “sleep through the night” baby, as soon as possible.
New parents all know someone who has helpful advice for them, based on their baby, who slept ten hours straight at six weeks old. Pfft! Meanwhile, parents also know someone who has a baby that barely sleeps two hours at a time, many months into its life. This poor baby is eight months old and is still not able to lay down without an extensive routine of shushing and rocking.
Knowing parents who have been through these challenges, I’ve found they have a tendency to make self-blaming excuses. They point to their past choices and the establishment of routines. They’ve developed these habits in survival mode, and it’s their fault they have ended up in shush-land. Well, I’m here to tell you: It’s not your fault if your kid doesn’t sleep.
One thing you learn very quickly as a parent of twins is what little your parenting actually has to do with anything. There are just some things hard-wired into babies from birth. It’s a nature versus nurture social experiment happening right before your eyes!
I’ve got two babies born on the same day, in the same way. Neither had a difficult birth and both are being treated identically. However, they are not at all identical babies (in both senses of the word) and have completely unique patterns and habits already. One sleeps better than the other, one cries more than the other, and they are hitting development milestones at slightly different times. One is not faster than the other in all areas; each milestone is learned by each baby at its own pace. One sister smiled on schedule, the other slept through the night on schedule.
So, what is innate, and what is taught? These two babies came bouncing into the world pre-programmed with distinct personalities and there’s very little I’m doing to shape them at this early stage. As much as I’d like to take credit when people say I’m “doing so well,” I know that it’s very little to do with me and mostly to do with a lucky outcome on baby-making roulette.
It’s not always easy, but it’s essential parents learn to be forgiving with themselves for whatever decision they’ve make that keeps their kid’s ten toes and ten fingers attached. Follow my logic based on these truths; love is forgiveness, and we must love ourselves to truly love someone else. Then, frame your parenting this way as well. Forgive yourself, love yourself, love your kid, and hope for the best.
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